(WatchDogReport.org) – Former US Ambassador to Russia during the Obama administration Michael McFaul said on June 26 that Russian President Vladimir Putin feared the Wagner group. During an MSNBC interview with Katy Tur, he explained that Putin even showed “fear” during a televised five-minute speech addressing the mutiny crisis. He claimed the Russian leader was afraid of Wagner’s chief Yevgeny Prigozhin and the possibility he could successfully execute a coup against the Kremlin.
Reacting to Putin’s speech, McFaul told Tur the Russian president was trying to divide the Wagner soldiers from Prigozhin. He explained this was an interesting “strategy” as world leaders and even Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov thought he would do something “dramatic.” The former ambassador pointed out that one of his main conclusions of the speech was that Putin was trying to do with Wagner what Prigozhin “tried to do” with the Russian military.
When asked if Putin was afraid, McFaul said the Russian leader felt that way because he knew the private military group remained loyal to Prigozhin. He explained this is why Putin spread the narrative that Wagner soldiers were “deceived” to try to execute this coup against the Kremlin. The former ambassador said Putin is making efforts to absorb these Wagner soldiers because of their military capacity and effectiveness. He told Tur this is why Putin distinguishes between them and Wagner leaders, whom he has called “traitors.”
McFaul explained this plan wouldn’t work and Putin would be put into a scenario where he would have to take more decisive actions against these soldiers. However, he said Putin knows he can’t “arrest them” or eliminate them as many Russian citizens and soldiers see them as “heroes” because of what they did in Bakhmut.
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